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Bestival - Robin Hill Country Park, Isle Of Wight - September 4-7 2014 (Live Review)

Monday, 15 September 2014 Written by Ryan Crittenden

Photo (Main/Inset): Outkast/Beck/Victor Frankowski

Bestival once again made good on its promises, delivering a Desert Island Disco-themed, record-breaking disco ball-wielding spectacular to the Isle of Wight’s Robin Hill Country Park and transforming it into a playground for overgrown kids looking for one last hurrah of the summer.

No matter where you found yourself on site, something quite mind-blowing was likely to be going on. Be it bands stepping into major headlining slots, DJs shaking the fancy dress off the ever enthusiastic crowd or the sun shining, this year’s Bestival had it all.

With tents erected and spirits high, the festival was already in full swing by the time the legendary Beck made his way on stage at The Big Top for Thursday night’s headline set.

Packing all his hits for a rare UK festival appearance, the suave Mr. Hanson dropped Devil’s Haircut, Loser and New Pollution early doors and never looked back. A hybrid Think I’m In Love/I Feel Love was then followed by an alternative rendition of Billie Jean during an extended Where It’s At finale.

Lethal Bizzle brought a whole lot of fun to the Main Stage as Friday got underway. The grime star threw in Pow!, Fire and Police on My Back before closing with his laughably catchy new single, Rari Workout. In complete contrast, tUnE-yArDs’ final show of this summer’s festival circuit was as wacky and weird as expected. Merrill Garbus delivered her own brand of erratic excellence to the Big Top, with set closers Water Fountain and Bizness standing out.

Disclosure earned their good billing on the Main Stage, but there is a sense that the Lawrence brothers are in serious need of some time away to write some new material and come back all guns blazing. Guest vocal spots from Eliza Doolittle and Friendly Fires’ Ed MacFarlane went down well, but it was the appearance of Sam Smith for Latch that sent the crowd into overdrive.

Recently reunited Atlanta outfit OutKast closed the day with a hit-packed, career-spanning set. Kicking things off with B.O.B, the duo, joined on stage by two backing singers, a bass player and DJ Shapeshifter, delighted the massive crowd with a great headline show, firing out hits The Way You Move, Miss Jackson, Hey Ya!, Gasoline Dreams and Roses.

As the night turned to morning the wonderful Caribou rocked up to deliver a truly mesmerising live show, much to the pleasure of those in the Big Top. The hour-long set was layered to perfection and boasted a closing trio of Odessa, Can’t Do Without You and an extended Sun, ticking all the boxes.

Photo: Dan le Sac vs Scroobius Pip/Carolina Faruolo

Saturday was always going to be emotional. The day had come for the influential, ground-breaking Dan le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip to bid farewell. Bestival has been a regular haunt and it felt like the perfect place for them to put this extraordinary chapter to bed.

The Big Top was bursting at the seams and the big beats and ingenious, thought-provoking lyrics sounded as good as ever. “I want you all to look back on this and smile. But that smile should maybe be through tears,” proved to be a particularly apt Stunner lyric as many in attendance fought back the waterworks. As the final bars of Letter From God to Man filled the tent, it was time to say goodbye and thank you.  

Almost as upsetting was the turnout for Wild Beasts. Fans of the Kendal four piece know that they have been Main Stage worthy since the arrival of the exquisite ‘Two Dancers,’ but their late afternoon slot proved to be a mood killer. Despite their best hoots and howls, the lacklustre crowd was too much of an obstacle to overcome.   

Photo: London Grammar/Dan Dennison

In complete contrast, the gargantuan audience that gathered for London Grammar was wonderful. Heart-wrenchingly beautiful from start to finish, Hannah Reid and Co. triumphed. The trio have faced some harsh criticism for being ‘boring’, but when they can hold a huge audience in the palm of their hands, how can that be the case? Reid’s voice was stunning, particularly during set highlights Wasting My Young Years and Metal & Dust.

Foals proved that they are one of, if not the best, live act in Britain. Despite some early technical problems, the band pulled off one of the most outstanding shows Bestival has ever seen. Led by Yannis Philippakis, who was at his energetic best, the Oxford five piece were a force of nature. Whether they were exploding into an early track like Hummer or later one like Providence, the band just kept on giving. A barnstorming Two Steps Twice was a great send off as they prepare to take a break before returning with album four. When they do, seeing Foals at the top of festival bills should be the norm.  

A packed Big Top tent was then the perfect setting to enjoy Basement Jaxx. The dance icons caused pandemonium with a greatest hits set that included Good Luck, Red Alert and Do Your Thing alongside some new material. Creating a real party atmosphere, they whipped up a tropical carnival soundtracked by the brilliant Where’s Your Head At? before the crowds decamped to the Port to see Annie Mac spin some electronic gems.  

Photo: Chic feat. Nile Rodgers/Dan Dennison

As the last day of Bestival came around too soon, it was fortunate that Major Lazer were in town to show everyone a good time. Diplo orchestrated proceedings, first from the stage and then from an inflatable ball that he manoeuvred across the crowd, and the desert island castaways lapped up everything they had to offer.

Chic featuring Nile Rodgers were enlisted to bring the curtain down, but what came next was an event that had everyone embracing the disco fever. His voice heavy with emotion, Rodgers announced that his long-time guitar tech, Terry Brauer, had died shortly before the set. With tears in his eyes, his shout of “Terry, Terry, Terry” was taken up around the field throughout a set stacked with hits.

Rodgers and his band rattled through Lost in Music, Spacer, Like A Virgin, Get Lucky in one big singalong party. Closing number Le Freak was only bettered by a tremendous encore performance of Good Times  and the now famous firework display. This was not the festival to end the summer, it was the festival of the summer.

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